Ongole (Andhra Pradesh), Oct 1 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh’s Prakasam district police arrested a habitual temple burglarizing trio on Wednesday even as they intensify security and monitoring around worship places at a time when religious politics are raging in the state.
Police arrested Lakke Venkateswarlu, 30, Lakke Adhinarayana, 20 and Lakke Brammaiah, 25 for burgling Saibaba temple in Nethivaripalem village of Kondapi mandalam.
“The accused trio is addicted to vices since childhood and whenever they require money they commit thefts in temples and closed shops to sell stolen stuff for petty amounts to fund their indulgences,” said a police official.
Ongole town is 152 km south west of Vijayawada.
Around 11.30 p.m. on September 22, the trio broke into Saibaba temple in Nethivaripalem and split open the offering box (hundi) to steal Rs 2,000.
Later, around midnight on Sunday, the three burglars smashed through a fancy shop in Tangtur village to decamp with cigarette packets worth Rs 20,000 and Rs 8,000 cash.
Following these two thefts, police formed a special team to hunt the temple burglars.
As part of the search, Kondapi police sub inspector was checking vehicles on Wednesday at Atleru Chapta, where the accused were identified and arrested around 2 p.m. Police recovered Rs 7,000 from the trio.
The cops registered two cases against the trio under IPC Sections 380 and 457.
Meanwhile, Prakasam district Superintendent of Police (SP), Siddharth Kaushal, has started an initiative called Sadhbhavana.
One of the goals of Sadhbhavana is to counsel people accused in old temple or worship places theft cases.
Likewise, Kaushal has also strengthened surveillance on the movements of old temple thieves and started acting severely against them if they repeated crime.
Prakasam police have also carried out a survey of religious places in the district and identified 6,685 such places.
According to the police survey, there are 161 important religious structures. In September alone, 232 new CCTV cameras have been installed at religious places.
Similarly, 469 watchmen and volunteers have been posted at some religious places. Nearly 6,685 religious structures got a complete security audit done on their premises.
As many as 1,141 bind over cases were carried under security sections in September and 3,363 people counselled.
Finally, 544 defence committees have been established where nearly 4,000 members are working.
Post Antarvedi Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple chariot blaze on September 5 in East Godavari district, religious politics are raging in Andhra Pradesh, a state which has been immune to such developments until now and renowned for communal harmony.